Monday, August 24, 2009

Voyage of the Vikings, Day 31 - Greenland to Newfoundland

3am and it's blowing 62 knots, dead on the stern, fortunately. The ride is surprisingly smooth for such a bluster. I don't know if this is the outer fringes of Bill, or ordinary Labrador Sea weather. Stay tuned.

6:00am and the breeze has plummeted to 20 knots, clocked arounnd to 250 deg. It must have been a localized storm we transited last night, nothing to do with hurricane Bill. We are high -tailing it across the Labrador Sea at 17 knots, almost as fast as this tub will go.

The captain stated that his intention was to make tracks overnight, allowing us the option to slow down later in the day if seas kick up. While the locally generated wind driven waves have pretty much subsided, there are beginning to be a few rollers. The sun is up and it is a beautiful day!


Another Beautiful Morning on the North Atlantic

Being a sea day there's not a lot of touring activity to talk about (except Bill, maybe), so I thought I would branch off to the subject of stuff we brought, and what I left behind that I wish I had brought. I have italicized this rant, so you can quickly scroll through it if you wish.

The only major item we miss is our laptop. I left it home because I didn't want to deal with the luggage, but it was a mistake.

Another minor item is lanyards for our room keys. Keith made one from parachute cord, but Kathy thinks it looks tacky and didn't want one.

Finally, a very small item is insulated coffee cups with handles. Keith brought two cups, but they don't have handles and are difficult to carry through the corridors.

The reverse category is stuff we brought that we didn't need. This is a longer list.

At the top of the list is formal clothes. They are truly optional, needed only if one is anxious to dress up, just for the purpose of dressing up. Kathy thought she did, but has changed her mind. Keith knew better, for himself.

Keith brought too much warm clothing in anticipation of the North Atlantic climate. A sweater, a sweat shirt, a heavy denim jacket, a windbreaker, and a heavy storm jacket. None of this will go to the Pacific with us in October.

The next category is toys. The material in italics is a rant about Keith’s toys. You are welcome to scroll past it if you wish.

Keith brought, a scanner, two MP3 players & spare headphones, a GPS, two cameras plus spare memory cards and batteries, the PDA on which this is being composed, various battery chargers, and an power strip to plug them all into.

The only thing that didn't work out very well is the scanner, which is bulky and difficult to understand. Keith may shop for a miniaturized high quality, ultra high speed (read not Radio Shack) scanner for our next cruise. However, even a higher fidelity audio circuit won’t help interpret the heavily accented English heard on the scanner.

The MP3 players worked exactly as advertised. We use them all the time at home, as a sleep aid, and to listen to in the middle of the night when sleep is elusive. Keith also listens to audiobooks during the day. He reads a lot less than he used to do, as his eyeglass prescription has gotten stronger.

The GPS also works as advertised, more or less. It is a handheld Garmin with a worldwide base map that includes land outlines, major roads, and, surprisingly, major navigation markers. It does exactly what I want, which is to tell us about where we are when approaching and departing harbor. It also tells us where we are in the open ocean, but this duplicates the navigation display that is available more or less continuously in our room on channel 40.

The two cameras work quite well. One is a small, pocket size Canon PowerShot A 720 IS. Eight megapixels, 6X zoom, image stabilization (necessary with 6X zoom), and a smallish but acceptable lens. Most of our photographs are taken with this camera, because it's always with us.

Our other camera is a Canon Powershot S3 IS. Six megapixels, 12X zoom, image stabilization, and a large, high quality lens (for a point & shoot camera). We bought this camera to photograph wildlife and soccer champions, and it works very well for this purpose. Because of the larger lens, it takes better pictures than the smaller camera, despite having less megapixels. But it is bigger and clumsier, and it doesn't fit conveniently in purse or pocket. Most of the pictures in our blogs are taken with the smaller camera, because it's the one thats always with us.

The last gadget is the PDA, on which this journal is being composed. It is a 2003 Hewlett Packard IPAQ h4300 series, purchased second-hand specificly for this cruise, so that we would have something to keep a digital journal without having to drag along a laptop. When Keith started to shop for this gadget a couple of years ago, he was surprised to learn that PDA's are passé, having been replaced by smartphones like the Blackberry and the iphone. Keith didn't want one for two reasons. First, he wants a miniature telephone that he can carry conveniently in his pants pocket, and smartphones are not small enough. Second, the smart phones do not have legitimate word processors. They have notepads, which are not adequate for journaling. This PDA has pocket Word, and a removeable SD card to which the Word documents can be saved, for easy download to the desktop.

The PDA keyboard is just under 3 inches wide by a bit over an inch high, with 39 triple function keys about 3/16 inch diameter, separated by somewhat more than 1/4 inch. Keith bought a more or less full size Bluetooth keyboard, but was never able to link it to the PDA. He had envisioned using this device in the cabin, or in the library, but he finds himself using it all over the ship, and on tour busses, where a portable keyboard really would not work out. Keith has learned to use the miniature keyboard reasonably well, so does not really miss the Bluetooth keyboard.

The bottom line is, Keith can generate more words on this miniature device than you probably want to read. On this cruise he is downloading the saved word documents to a second SD card in the computer lab, for backup. When we get home, Keith will download the documents from the SD card to the laptop, edit them, then use the words to construct the daily Blogs.

As I said, I regret not bringing the laptop, for backup of text & photos, and for photo editing. We are fortunate to have access to laptops provided by Bill Gates for educational purposes. We bought a couple of 4GB SD cards and are using the Microsoft provided computers to sort our photos, and to backup to the cards. We will not go on another cruise without a laptop, although Keith will probably buy a smaller unit for this purpose. Keith likes to shop just as much as Kathy, just for different stuff.

Enough about Keith’s toys. It's 9am, the sun is well up, and the seas are moderate. Could it be that our captain's mad dash will get us across and under cover before Hurricane Bill arrives off Newfoundland? Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

10:30am, Kathy is puzzling, and Keith is waiting for the computer lab to open. The computer guy is in the lab teaching a course just now. Kathy wants to attend a display buffet at noon in the main dining room.


Kathy Puzzles Away the Morning

Noon at the buffet display. It looks elegant, but not worth the mob scene. We head upstairs to the Lido to enjoy a good steak, served with zucchini, string beans, and really good fries. I think they must have new oil in the cooker, because the fries have been especially good the last couple of days.


Mob Scene in the Main Dining Room

Keith spent an hour in the computer lab this morning. Believe it or not, he is about caught up sorting photos. It's a really good feeling. It would be a daunting task, sorting through thousands of photos when we get home. We faced that task after our China trip, and it almost didn't get done because of the monumental effort required.

4pm, and Keith is relaxing over a cup of tea in the Lido Café. Kathy is watching a movie. It's blowing about 25, and there is a bit of a swell running, maybe 10 feet on the starboard beam. We are bouncing a bit, but not bad. Nothing compared to what it could have been, had we had a closer encounter with Hurricane Bill, which seems to be headed off to the British Isles.

8pm, supper is history, and we are in the showroom, instead of in bed, as we ought to be. Surf & turf for dinner for Keith, lamb shank for Kathy. If this keeps up, we shall be big as houses. Keith doesn’t know what the show is tonight, and don't care. Keith has his MP3 to listen to. Keith doesn't really care for live entertainment, buy attends occasionally to please Kathy.

Turns out the 8pm entertainment in the showroom is a tribute group called The Unexpected Boys. They are Frankie Vallee and the 4 Seasons impersonators. Kathy says they are quite good. Keith & Kathy attended, and Kathy enjoyed it very much.

9pm, and we are in bed, anticipating our sail-in to northern Newfoundland tomorrow morning. In the meantime, since there really wasn’t much by way of activity photographs this day, I have included below a few random shots taken around the ship over the course of four weeks.



Art is Everywhere


Delft Accents the Dutch Theme


Oceans Bar


Piano Bar


Casino Bar


Retail Therapy Zone, Jewelry Department


Watches That Fell Offa the Baka Da Truck Department


Discount Luxury Department


Gambling Inducement


This One is Truly Scary!

Gamble on Your Credit Card,

Up to One Thousand Dollars per Day


The Explorer’s Lounge


Dutch East India Company Legacy


Maasdam Defensive Armament

Would This Canon Repel Somali Pirates?

Don’t touch that dial!

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